« PreviousContinue »
nius, to reconcile the philofopher with the man of the world, and judicioufly divide his hours between action and retirement.
WHAT has been faid of a celebrated French tranflator, may with equal juftice be applied to Mr. Pope, " that it is doubt"ful whether the dead or the living are "moft obliged to him." His translations of Homer, and imitations of Horace, have introduced to the acquaintance of the English reader, two of the most confiderable authors in all antiquity: as indeed they are equal to the credit of fo many original works. A man must have a very confiderable share of the different spirit which diftinguishes thofe most admirable poets, who is capable of reprefenting in his own language, fo true an image of their respective manners. If we look no farther than these works themselves, without confidering them with refpect to any attempts of the fame nature which have been made by others, we shall have fufficient reason to esteem them for their own intrinfic merit. But how will this uncommon genius rise in our admiration, when we compare his claffical translations with thofe fimilar performances,
which have employed fome of the most celebrated of our poets? I have lately been turning over the Iliad with this view: and perhaps, it will be no unentertaining amufement to you, to examine the feveral copies which I have collected of the original, as taken by fome of the moft confiderable of our English mafters. To fingle them out for this purpose according to the order of the particular books, or paffages, upon which they have respectively exercised their pencils; the pretenfions of Mr. Tickel ftand first to be examined.
THE action of the Iliad opens, you know, with the speech of Chryfes, whofe daughter, having been taken captive by the Grecians, was allotted to Agamemnon. This venerable priest of Apollo is represented as addreffing himself to the Grecian chiefs, in the following pathetic fimplicity of eloquence :
Ατρείδαι τέ, και αλλοι εύκνήμιδες Αχαιοι, Υμιν μὴν θεον δοιέν, ολυμπια δώματ' έχονίες, Εκπερσαι Πριαμοιο πολιν, δ δ' οικαδ' ἐκεῖθε Παίδα δε μοι λύσαιλε φιλήν, τα δ' αποινα δέχεπέ, Αξομύλινοι Διος τον έκηβολον Απόλλωνα. 1.17.
Great Atreus' fons and warlike Greece, attend:
So may th' immortal Gods your caufe defend,
So may you Priam's lofty bulwarks burn,
That affecting tendernefs of the father, which Homer has marked out by the melancholy flow of the line, as well as by the endearing expreffion of
Παιδα δε μοι λυσαλε φιλώ,
is entirely loft by Mr. Tickel. When Chryfes coldly mentions his daughter, without a fingle epithet of concern or affection, he feems much too indifferent himself to move the audience in his favor. But the whole paffage as it stands in Mr. Pope's Iliad, is in general animated with a far more lively fpirit of poetry. Who can obferve the moving posture of fupplication in which he has drawn the venerable old priest, ftretching out his arms in all the affect
ing warmth of intreaty, without sharing in his distress, and melting into pity?
Ye kings and warriors! may your vows be
And Troy's proud walls lie level with the ground:
The infinuation with which Chryfes clofes his fpeech, that the Grecians must expect the indignation of Apollo would pursue them if they rejected the petition of his prieft, is happily intimated by a fingle epithet:
And dread avenging Phæbus.
whereas the other tranflator takes the compass of three lines to exprefs the fame thought less strongly.
WHEN the heralds are fent by Agamemnon to Achilles, in order to demand Brifeïs; that chief is prevailed upon to part with
with her and accordingly directs Patroclus to deliver up this contefted beauty, into their hands;
Πατρόκλῶ δὲ φιλῳ ἐπεπεθεθ ̓ εταιρίες Εκ δ' αγάγε κλισιης Βρίσαϊδα καλλιπαρῃον Δωκε δ' αγειν τω δ' αυλις την παρα νηας Αχαίων. Η δ' αεκεσ' αμα τοισι γυνη κιεν i. 345
The beauty of Brifeïs as defcribed in these lines, together with the reluctance with which she is here represented as forced from her lord, cannot but touch the reader in a very fenfible manner. Mr. Tickel, however, has debased this affecting picture, by the most unpoetical and familiar diction. I will not delay you with making my objections in form to his language; but have distinguished the exceptionable expreffions, in the lines themefelves:
Patroclus his dear friend oblig'd, And usher'd in the lovely weeping maid; Sore figh'd fhe, as the heralds took her band, And oft look'd back, flow moving o'er the TICKEL.
Our British Homer has restored this piece to its original grace and delicacy: